Sep 20, 2010

How To of the Week: Train for a Marathon

How To of the Week: Train for a Marathon

I've had a few people ask me how to train for a marathon. So here it is.

Before I get started, here is a badass video of me running through the Magic Kingdom, AC/DC styles.

Congrats. The first step to wanting to run a marathon is actually deciding to run it. If you are going to do it, commit to it. Training for a marathon, especially your first one, will become a part time job. You will need to dedicate at least an hour a night to run. It will obviously take more time as you increase the mileage. If you are going to really do it, tell everyone in your life that you are going to run a marathon. There will be several times that you will feel like backing out. But since you told everyone you are going to do it, there is no backing out. Unless you are a pussy. But that's not in my vocabulary, so we'll move on.

I've written a ton of shit about all the crazy stuff that I have gone through in my journey of running 5 marathons in the past 16 months. I'll link all that at the bottom so you can read up on it.

If you are simply looking for a template of a running schedule, here is what I would suggest going with.

Basically, you want to run a couple miles every day during the week, a long run on Saturday, and rest on Sunday. It would look like:

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Run 1 mile
  • Tuesday: Run 1 mile
  • Wednesday: Run 1 mile
  • Thursday: Run 1 mile
  • Friday: Run 1 mile
  • Saturday: Run 3 miles

You will want to do that for the first few weeks to get started. It really depends on what kind of shape you are in before starting all of this that determines how fast you move along and increase the miles that you run on a daily basis.

Once you get up to the point where you can run 3 miles a day, the schedule would turn into something like this:

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Run 3 miles
  • Tuesday: Run 3 miles
  • Wednesday: Run 3 miles
  • Thursday: Run 3 miles
  • Friday: Run 3 miles
  • Saturday: Run 6 miles

After you are able to run 6 miles for the long run, you should be good to go. I always tell people that if you can you 1 mile, you can run 3. If you can run 3, you can run 6. If you can run 6, you can run 12. If you can run 12, you can run 26.2.

Stick to the schedule running 3 miles a day, Monday through Friday. Increase the miles for the long run each week. It doesn't really matter how much you increase it by, but I would go with increasing it by 1-2 miles each weekend. So run 6, 8, 10, 12. Depending on the timing of when the marathon is, you could run 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 on the weekends right before it. I never really went balls out like that prior to any of my marathons, but it is important to at least run one 13.1 miler so you build confidence and know that you can do at least half of it.

Two weeks before the marathon, run a half marathon, or a 12-14 mile run. After that, put it into cruise control. The week before the marathon should look like this:

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Run 1-3 mile(s)
  • Tuesday: Run 1-3 mile(s)
  • Wednesday: Run/fast walk 1 mile
  • Thursday: Run/fast walk 1 mile or rest
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Dominate

The schedule isn't set in stone, but I would try to keep to it. If you run 2 miles one day during the week, try to run 4 miles the next day to make up for it. It doesn't matter how you do it, but you gotta put in the miles. You can't just wake up and run a marathon if you have never ran before. If you can, then I'm sorry you just read all of this, and hats off to you.

General pointers

  • If you get shin splints, your shoes are too tight or too loose. Take an Advil or Tylenol an hour before you run. You can stretch out by doing a girl push-up and stretch your calves to help loosen up the shin splints.
  • Get a gym membership during the winter. You can't run outside if there is snow/ice on the ground. Well you can, but it sucks.
  • Do whatever it takes to motivate you. I tell everyone I'm going to do the race. I write down the miles I ran every day so I can keep track of it. I have a dry erase board at work that I keep a countdown for the marathon once I get about two months prior to race day. Stuff like that. Whatever floats your boat.
  • I listen to music when I run. Make tons of playlists for your iPod. I have multiple playlists for every amount of miles that I'm going to run. Once you get into the longer runs, listening to different albums for a set about of miles helps break up the mileage. For example, if I know it's going to take me 5 hours to finish the marathon, I might listen to a different band for each hour of the race. Have a few "pump up" songs ready to go in case shit hits the fan. I'm not a diehard Metallica fan, but I listen to their "Death Magnetic" album, tracks 2-6, half the time I run 3 miles.
  • When you actually run the whole marathon, mile #18 is the mile where you will discover if you are a man (or woman) or not. Everything gets tossed out the window at mile #18. The classic tale of man v. the world turn into man v. self at mile #18. So get ready for that.
Read this stuff.